The Decision of The Constitutional Court Numbered 2023/38 On The Cancellation Of Turkish Civil Code Art. 187

The first sentence of Article 187 of the Turkish Civil Code titled “Surname of the Woman” suggests that a woman takes her husband’s surname upon marriage and may use her previous surname in front of her husband’s surname given that she applies to the relevant bodies. In the application subject to Decision No. 2023/38, the applicant applied to the Constitutional Court with the request that she be allowed to use her maiden surname alone.

It is known that the surname is an inalienable, irrevocable and indefinite personal right and that the obligation to change one’s surname upon marriage by law is criticised as being contrary to fundamental rights and freedoms within the scope of Articles 8 and 14 of the ECHR and Constitution. Preventing a woman from using her surname, which she received at birth and has been recognized with in all aspects of life until the moment of marriage, is incompatible with the equality principle. According to Article 10, women and men have equal rights under the Turkish Constitution, and Article 187 of the Turkish Civil Code contradicts this constitutional principle. The Constitutional Court, pointing out all above, criticised the relevant article of the Turkish Civil Code in its decision no. 2023/38, stating that the state is obliged to ensure the realisation of equality between women and men

The Constitutional Court emphasised the importance of women’s rights in the context of human rights and stated that all organs and authorities of the state have a duty to protect women’s rights. With respect to all aforementioned views of the Court, the decision to cancel article 187 of the Turkish Civil Code was made as it was contrary to Article 10 of the Constitution. When this decision dated 22/2/2023 enters into force, the woman will be able to use her former surname alone after marriage.